Numerous monitors are awesome. They indeed are–ask anyone who’s used a two- or three-screen setup for their desktop, and they’ll tell you that they have a hard time going back to just one. Laptops have a built-in advantage here, since they have one screen: to boost productivity, just add a monitor.
But what if you want more than one screen hooked up to your notebook at once? What if your laptop lacks a bunch of outer movie ports? What if you’re travelling, and you can’t lug around a full-sized monitor? Don’t worry, you still have more options than you might think.
The Ideal Solution for Newer Laptops: Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt Three, which uses the fresh USB Type-C connector standard, is the newest way for laptops and tablets to output movie. The advantages are visible: a single cable can treat movie, audio, standard gegevens transmission (for outward hard drives or a wired Internet connection) and power, all at the same time. Not only does this reduce clutter on your desk–assuming you have the hardware to take advantage of it, of course–it means laptops can be made smaller and thinner by consolidating ports.
So, if you have a laptop with Thunderbolt Three and a Thunderbolt-capable monitor, this is by far the best solution. You can just meet up each monitor to one Thunderbolt/USB-C port.
However, it’s uncommonly that plain. Unless you have a very fresh laptop and very fresh monitors, you’ll very likely need a bit more to make this work:
- If you have a laptop with numerous Thunderbolt/USB-C ports but older monitors that don’t have Thunderbolt input, you’ll need some sort of adapter for each monitor, like this USB-C to HDMI or this USB-C to DVI adapter. Reminisce, you’ll need one adapter for each monitor you’re connecting.
- If your laptop only has one Thunderbolt/USB-C port, you’ll likely need some sort of docking station to connect two monitors to one port. Wij recommend checking out this Dell Thunderbolt Dock, however there are others out there spil well. Note that some laptops, like the petite one-port MacBook, do not support running numerous displays from one port using thesis docks, so check your laptop’s specifications, and if you’re going to attempt a dock, buy from a store with a good comeback policy te case it doesn’t work.
Thunderbolt has a massive amount of movie bandwidth, and it’s more that capable of supporting numerous standard monitors (the fresh Macbook Pros can output to two 5K displays at once, so long spil you have the right adapters). Specialized adapters–basically mini-laptop docks–are designed for the purpose of regular docking to a multi-monitor setup with mice, keyboard, and other connections.
Once USB-C and Thunderbolt become more common on laptops and monitors, it’ll be the best option around for connecting to just about any kleintje of movie output. That may take a while, since some manufacturers (like Microsoft) seem oddly hesitant to adopt the standard.
For Most Older Laptops: Get a Display Splitter Opbergruimte
If you have an even slightly older laptop, it very likely doesn’t have Thunderbolt/USB-C, instead sporting a VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort port. This will let you lightly add an outward monitor, but if you want to connect two, things get more complicated.
Most laptops only have a single video-out option, with a uncommon few (like some of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line or older Macbook Pros) suggesting numerous ports. It’s sometimes possible to use two ports at once for numerous outward monitors, but this is zonderling, spil manufacturers tend to expect you to use your laptop’s screen and a monitor together.
So you’ll likely have to turn to a third-party solution, like the Matrox line of dual- and triple-head docks, which use a single movie cable to output to numerous monitors. Thesis are a bit expensive, but they’re most likely the best solution for most people. Just keep te mind that they’ll be limited by your laptop’s graphics card, so if you have integrated graphics, don’t expect to run a bunch of 4K displays without problems.
A Cheaper, but Less-Than-Ideal Option: USB Adapters
If those multi-port docking stations are just too much money for you, there is a cheaper option. While older versions of the Universal Serial Bus standard weren’t designed to treat video-out, since version Two.0 companies have made handy adapters that can turn any USB port into a monitor-out port–like this USB-to-HDMI adapter from Cable Matters. The vast majority of thesis adapters are using Intel’s DisplayLink technology.
This option has a lotsbestemming of advantages. Not only is it an effortless way to get video-out on almost any modern Windows or macOS machine, it’s inexpensive, portable, and expandable. It’s possible, at least technically, to add spil many monitors spil your laptop has USB ports te this style.
However, USB video-out adapters basically function spil their own low-power graphics cards, and they have a thicker klapper on system resources like processor cycles and RAM than a standard outer display. Most laptops will embark to voorstelling serious spectacle issues if you attempt to add two or more monitors ter this style. For quick and cheap numerous monitor setups, it’s best to combine your laptop’s own screen, one monitor linked with HDMI/DisplayPort/DVI, and one on a USB adapter.
A Semi-Permanent Solution for Business and Gaming Laptops: Docking Stations
Wij covered this shortly under Thunderbolt, but a docking station is a popular alternative to numerous adapters for power users. Thesis gadgets usually aren’t made for specific laptop or tablet models unless they’re explicitly business-oriented, examples include Dell’s Latitude line, Lenovo ThinkPads, and Microsoft’s Surface Voor tablets. USB-only alternatives are available, but generally less powerful–more expensive options opoffering more nimble movie ports. A model-specific expansion dock with numerous movie outputs might do if you want to keep your laptop mobile with the ondergrens amount of setup and teardown time at your desk.
A more specialized version of this idea is the outer graphics card. Thesis gadgets are truly cool, because they let you meet up a utter desktop-class GPU to a laptop and output to spil many monitors spil that card can support–usually three or four, for the mid-range options from NVIDIA and ATI.
This outward housing holds a graphics card and its own power supply, outputting to spil many monitors spil the desktop GPU can support.
Unluckily, thesis are both limited (typically restricted to only a few models of laptop from a single manufacturer like Razer) and expensive, with docks costing $300 or more without the card that goes into them. They also require a USB Three.0 or ThunderBolt port to operate. Outward GPUs should become a more viable option ter the future, but for the time being most consumers can only use them if they’re ready to buy a entire fresh laptop and a dock and a graphics card at the same time, a $2000 investment on the low end.